Under the Glacier by Halldor Laxness

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Nobel laureate Halldór Laxness’s Under the Glacier is a one-of-a-kind masterpiece, a wryly provocative novel at once earthy and otherworldly. At its outset, the Bishop of Iceland dispatches a young emissary to investigate certain charges against the pastor at Sn?fells Glacier, who, among other things, appears to have given up burying the dead. But once he arrives, the emissary finds that this dereliction counts only as a mild eccentricity in a community that regards itself as the center of the world and where Creation itself is a work in progress.
What is the emissary to make, for example, of the boarded-up church? What about the mysterious building that has sprung up alongside it? Or the fact that Pastor Primus spends most of his time shoeing horses? Or that his wife, Ua (pronounced “ooh-a,” which is what men invariably sputter upon seeing her), is rumored never to have bathed, eaten, or slept? Piling improbability on top of improbability, Under the Glacier overflows with comedy both wild and deadpan as it conjures a phantasmagoria as beguiling as it is profound.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

About Halldor Laxness

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Halldór Laxness was born near Reykjavik, Iceland, in 1902. His first novel was published when he was seventeen. The undisputed master of contemporary Icelandic fiction and one of the outstanding novelists of the century, he has written more than sixty books, including novels short stories, essays, poems, plays and memoirs. In 1955 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. He died in 1998.
Published December 18, 2007 by Vintage. 258 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction. Fiction

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When Syngmann dies, and the issue of proper burial is (so to speak) reborn, Embi falls into the quasi-maternal clutches of middle-aged siren Gudrun Saemundsdottir, who drops by claiming to be Pastor Primus’s long-absent wife (and Syngmann’s adopted daughter), revealing her own lavishly picaresque...

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Arts Fuse

If one looks at the glacier for long enough, words cease to have any meaning on God’s earth.” Yes, the glacier is just a tad like Melville’s white whale.While staying at Snaefells, Embi encounters an assortment of peculiar characters, including the pastor’s housekeeper, who presses on Embi a “tid...

Apr 05 2005 | Read Full Review of Under the Glacier

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